52/52 – Looking Forward to 2018

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​What am I looking for in the new year?

More tea, more candles, more writing. More quiet time for mindfulness.

One of my pet peeves for myself is constantly on the lookout for a new calendar even while I’m already using a new calendar. I am never satisfied with the planner that I have. Except for 2016. That was the first planner that I used for all twelve months. I’m going to try again this year. I’ve got a different design, but the same exact style, size, and binding, so I have high hopes. I use the monthly section for important dates, you know, like a calendar, and I use the weekly pages for planning my website, blog, and writing.

So, that’s first. Next Monday, I will spend most of my day filling in all of the dates that I’ve been listing in a notebook plus birthdays and retreats.

Once again, as I am wont to do, I’m going to add some weekly topics, perhaps a monthly theme tied into a weekly series. I like to find what people find interesting and enjoyable. Or even worthy of discourse. All suggestions welcome. 

One of the things that I discover after every major liturgical season is how much I miss the daily devotional books. I’m currently reading the one for Advent and Christmas, and I enjoy the daily thoughts that I can meditate on, whether they affect my prayer life or my writing life; both are really balanced against the other, and interchangeable. Interconnected. Unfortunately, that book will end with the Baptism of the Lord (January 8th).

My husband bought me the best, most thoughtful Christmas present. It is a weekly prayer journal. There is a short reading, a Scripture, and a space to jot down thoughts. I always think that I want to do this daily, but that is usually too overwhelming and forced. This weekly format seems perfect. It’s also a personal test for me since I am always hesitant to write directly into a journal like this – I will usually do the exercises on a separate paper or notebook so the original remains perfect. That is so not the objective, but I’m trying.

I also discovered a book offer in my emails for daily reflecting and exercises. 365 Health and Happiness Boosters Kindle Edition by M.J. Ryan. I’m going into it with a reasonable expectation to only do what I choose to do. I’ll read it daily, and see how it and I feel.

In building my own program of mindfulness or whatever the kids are calling it these days, I am seriously contemplating writing a yearly format book. I know it sounds braggadocios to say, but often I like parts of several books, and can’t find one that works best for me, and think that I could do it better. I know there are others who’ve mentioned this to me as well. That was the feeling I had when I created and published my original travel organizer.

I’d like to get back in the custom of attending the daily 9am mass, barring any weather or work-related conflicts. In doing so, I’d also like to stay for those rosary prayers as well.

Spend less money.

Cook more.

Express myself better, especially politically.

Teach a writing class.

Join a board of education committee.

Stay ahead with a writing schedule and putting together a quarterly editorial calendar. I’ve tried this before, but what I’ve been doing the last few weeks seems on the whole to be working – planning, writing, scheduling those posts and writing others. Keep better track of my published pieces and word counts.

Work on my Wales book.

Outline my House book.

Do good. Be good.

Be kind. Create art.

Give myself a mantra. (Those are already taken.)

51/52 – 2017 Writing Reflection

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​Looking back on 2017 and how much I’ve advanced in my writing and motivation needs to start before the year even began. For Halloween 2016, I dressed as a journalist, complete with reporter’s notebook and 1950s fedora. The election year had been a difficult one for journalists and the press in general, moreso than the usual kidnappings and murders that they face yearly all across the globe. Theirs is not an easy job, but where would we be as a society without them? The maligning they received at the hands of Candidate Trump, and continues with him as President is horrifying, not only to this country’s First Amendment, but also to this country’s value we put on knowledge and information; checks and balances.

I have always been a fan of journalists and news reporters, and my choice for two Halloweens ago was a reminder of that love, but also of what was at stake at the following week’s election. We can see how prescient that choice was.

It’s been a long year. L–O–N–G.

I’ve had a few missteps and missed deadlines on the blog, but I’m happy with how far i’ve come, the changes I’ve made, and confident in the changes still to come in the new year.

I’m grateful and appreciative for every follower, every like, and every comment. Each one helps me to grow just a little bit more as a writer.

I now also consider my attempts at art and photography as part of my writing and my writing life.

I participated in Nanowrimo, and I was very satisfied with how much was written in those thirty days: over 35,000 words. As I’ve said before, I didn’t make it to the 50,000 word goal, but I do have 35,000+ words more than I had on November 1st. I’m looking forward to creating outlines and editing and more research in the early parts of the new year to get my book on its way.

I have also decided to send a letter of intent to a local continuing education department and teach a six week class on writing. The workshops, and my contributions to them, not to mention this blog, have given me the confidence to believe that this is a next step in my writing life.

In reading too many books that I feel I could have written, not so much better, but differently and valued, I believe I have another book in me, this one specifically on journaling. Or writing. Or inspiration. It’s still in flux.

This looking back will have me looking forward by the end of the week. Stay tuned.

50/52 – Do Good for Others

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I’ve had a page this last year of where I send my support. I reached out to some friends for their most important charities, and wanted to share them here with you.

If you have spare money throughout the year or time for some of the local volunteer organizations, please use it to do good.

I have listed them alphabetically, and the religious organizations included have as their primary focus helping others. Check their status here

ACLU*

Catholic Charities

CNEWA

Committee to Protect Journalists*

Doctors Without Borders

Heifer International
The Hispanic Federation*

Lydia Place*

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Stroke Association*

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation*

Planned Parenthood*

Random Acts*

Save a Warrior (SAW)

Southern Poverty Law Center

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital*

The Trevor Project*

World Vision

Inclusion is not endorsement. However, the ones with an asterisk are where I have personally contributed over the years.

49/52 – December

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​December used to be cold and miserable. Snow and wind, sleet and hail. And as the climate changed so did December. I never worked on my birthday. From college on, no classes, no work. One birthday I went on a job interview and for a drug test. I almost got into a head on collision. That should have been a sign.

I usually take the day to myself, have a Starbucks breakfast, go shopping, stop by into Target and get one or two Christmas ornaments, a Moose, a Mary, something for someone, maybe even write.

This year, it’s Sunday, so I’ll stay home with the family, quietly, although…

Supermoon?

Mercury in retrograde? Is that good or bad?

Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s approaching quickly; too quickly.

But it’s still early in December, still time to enjoy the quiet before the last minute rush, before school recesses, holiday parties, last minute wrapping.

The quiet of the house is a reminder that quiet can be found throughout December. Light a candle, read a book, say a prayer. Have a cup of tea. Every day is an opportunity to slow down and look past the noise and see what’s really important.

Day two of Advent calls. Editing Nano calls. The kids call.

But I think I’ll light a candle and drink this tea.

And…slow…down.

48/52 – 50 to 51

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My birthday was yesterday. I enjoyed fifty while it lasted, and fifty-one was not off to an auspicious start. It wasn’t a bad day; it was…just a day. My family was around, and we had a nice dinner, cake, and presents, which was fun (and delicious). I had been thinking about doing this word art for a few weeks now, but it wasn’t until the morning of my birthday that I took the time, while eating chocolate chip cookies, to go through my calendar and play with my colored Sharpies. Continue reading

44/52 – November

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​November is that month.

We’re hopped up on Halloween candy, if we haven’t already, we’re about to turn on the heat, raising our utility bill that’s given us a break since we turned off the air conditioner, and we look at the calendar and see how many days off the kids have from school because of holidays, staff development days, and parent-teacher conferences and then realize that it’s fifty-five days until Christmas and there’s only a couple of paychecks left in the year to get it all done.

And Facebook post after Instagram post after writing prompt, we’re expected to be grateful and show gratitude.

Keep a gratitude journal for thirty days.

What are you grateful for? Thankful for?

Go around the Thanksgiving table and express what you’re thankful for. And then everyone looks at you.

Sunday’s prompt for The Daily Post was gratitude.

Most of us feel grateful, even when it’s not the holiday season. For some of us, expressing that in a meaningful, non-eye-rolly way is not easy. It puts us on the spot; the focus is entirely on us, and if we forget something that someone did, we offend people.

Our gratitude is not only for us, but for our kids, and knowing that we’re raising good-most-of-the-time, decent, compassionate people who won’t think twice about helping others and getting nothing in return.

Our gratitude is to let others know that we appreciate them, and through that, they feel gratitude and appreciated.

So, this year, I have a different gratitude journal in mind.

Two blurbs a week from now until December 1st. Why December 1st? Because gratefulness doesn’t end with Thanksgiving dinner.

One blurb, choose something simple. Getting to work on time all week. Sticking to your diet (if that’s your thing.) Getting to worship.

And one blurb, choose a bigger one. My husband does all of the laundry. This is a huge thing that doesn’t get acknowledged, and it should, right? Using my coping skills for my depression recovery. We all have our own things that we find important, so this second blurb will give us something to think about.

I’ll start.

November 2nd:

1. I actually started Nanowrimo yesterday.

2. I’m grateful for the amount of time my husband “lets” me write without the guilt of needing to do something else. I say let, but it’s not permission; it’s opportunity, and if often goes unthanked.